www.startupindiamagazine.com | December 18, 2020
Meet Avi Vasu. A professional author, filmmaker, photographer, publisher, designer, inventor, artist, writer, director, cinephile, explorer, poet (etc.). Avi is the Creative Director and founder at Erango Media LLP. Erango is a new-age creative company designed to promote polymaths. He is passionate about championing art with a multi-disciplinary approach. Over the last eight years, Erango has carved a niche across the globe in fashion, music, design and independent cinema.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut, a detective, a scientist, a singer, an actor, basically everything like any other child. I am lucky to have parents who are writers, so storytelling came naturally to me and reading was a habit that was inculcated early on. I had a knack for storytelling and when I got my hands on a camera for the first time, my artistic horizons broadened. Today, I realise my dream of being an astronaut, a detective, a scientist, a singer, and actor, or anything my art is about.
I was all set for studying Engineering. But, at heart I am a polymath. I am interested in (and good at) a bunch of topics, encompassing sciences and arts. Fortunately, I found a University that let me explore both simultaneously. At FLAME University, I was able to study a variety of subjects like Genetics, History of Rock Music, Religious Iconography, Sculpture, French, Urdu, Spanish and many others, all at the same time! Eventually, I Majored in Filmmaking with a Minor in Psychology. This multi-disciplinary approach of mixing the sciences and arts is what gave birth to Erango.
What will people say?
In today’s day and age, everyone is in a race to become a specialist. By the time we enter college, we are expected to choose our vocation. We evaluate talent based on certifications we achieve by becoming specialists. Ironically, there are millions of specialists, all in exactly the same boat. When I started my company, I decided I was going to look for ‘Jacks of all Trades’, because Erango was not going to be restricted to one domain. My idols were polymaths such as Da Vinci, Aristotle and Feynman who challenged the status quo in various fields.
Over the years, we forayed into publishing – we already have two books published and distributed globally. We have designed games. We have conducted research experiments in psychology and devised an experience designed to build strong interpersonal bonds. We have designed clothes that have premiered at red carpets globally. We participated in film festivals in France, Germany, USA and India. We won an Audience Choice Award in New York. Our team comprises Writers, Artists, Designers, Scientists, Software Developers, Web Designers, Supply Chain Management Professionals, Doctors, and some others. Most of our projects involve a confluence of many of these skillsets. We operate out of three offices in India and are starting our first overseas office soon.
What are the challenges in starting up an organization that is not traditionally structured?
Fixated mindsets in clients is the major challenge. The process of getting clients to think ‘all-rounder’ vis-a-vis ‘specialist’ has spurred creativity in our sales pitches. There are other challenges, which ironically are fairly common. The most irritating is acquaintances expecting you to work for free.
What was it like to have your films premiere at the Cannes Festival?
Getting to Cannes, the biggest independent film festival in the world, was a life goal. When I submitted my film in 2014, I was not expecting to get in. But, ‘Lost & Found’ got accepted and I reached Cannes, and I realised I was exactly where I needed to be.
I have been to Cannes every year since then. I have rubbed shoulders with and spoken to Quentin Tarantino, Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Iniarritu, Michel Hazanavicius, Uma Thurman, Samuel L Jackson, John Travolta, Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, David Michod and many more! The thing about Cannes is that when they are not on the Red Carpet, all these celebrities meet you freely without restrictions. Being immersed in the culture without the garb of glamour is highly rewarding to the creative process.
What was 2020 like for Erango?
The year started with a rap song, followed by a few commercials for players in the electrical and green space. We released a short film which was a tribute to film noir gangster movies of the seventies. When COVID happened, we shifted gears and focused on writing. We released a book – Ubaid Naseer – which is based during the night of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
Ubaid Naseer is a story of an ordinary man pushed to do extra ordinary things due to his values and circumstances. My idea was to bring this story to the front, so common people can know them and get inspired by them. Writing this book was an emotional process because interviewing survivors and heroes gave me so much inspiration and humility. It is available in over 150 countries in print and electronic formats. We are now in talks to make a Web series based on it.
What are your future plans?
We are super excited about our latest venture in the tech space. We are currently designing a structure for connecting short film makers of the world and bringing their art to the fore. Essentially, Erango is creating an international community and will be at the helm of the short film industry in the near future.
I have embraced the notion that I will never be a specialist and that I will be a polymath. In a world that has become excruciatingly specialised, Erango will continue to be a safe haven for ‘Jacks of all Trades’ who cannot be defined!